Birthday Cakes

oiled roads
Newly Oiled Road

Friday, November 8, 1968

The drive on Convoy Road to Da Nang was a little smoother in the new Admin truck.  Fernando was driving at a moderate speed as the trailer bounced along behind us.  Mud had hardened and cracked as if the road had a bad case of immersion foot.  Soon the Amtracs would grind the surface to dust.  It was a never-ending cycle.

I had my invitation to the gathering at Division Food Service and wanted to ride with Gunny Sampson. *  At Headquarters we transferred to a Jeep.  It only took a few minutes through Dog Patch ** to Freedom Hill.  The road to Graves Registration now had a guarded gate.

We checked into the meeting and waited for others to arrive.  Part of signing in was to print our nickname on the roster.  I wanted to leave it blank, but Sampson cajoled me into writing “PTOMAINE.”

When the meeting started, a Master Gunnery Sergeant introduced each Mess Sergeant by rank, nickname and last name.  “Gunnery Sergeant HASH – Brown, Gunnery Sergeant HILLBILLY – Hodges, Gunnery Sergeant CAJUN – Sampson,” and so on.  I was the lowest ranking, “Sergeant PTOMAINE – Kysor.”  Everyone got a big laugh, and my face was red.

The meeting covered two subjects, Marine Corps Birthday cakes and the Thanksgiving Day meal.  The cakes would be available for pick-up at the FLC bakery tomorrow.  We received copies of the Turkey Day menu, along with new recipe cards and a lecture about this being the most important meal of the year.

I looked at this group of Mess Sergeants and thought of the color photo insert in the Regional Cook Book.  The images of women cooks around the USA would be replaced by:  HASH Brown, HILLBILLY Hodges, CAJUN Sampson and PTOMAINE Kysor.  Even with us all using the same recipes, our mess halls would have a regional influence.  We were no match for home cooking but would do our best.

*  See previous blog, “Gunny Sampson” January 8, 1968

** See previous blog, “Vietnamese Kitchen Workers” January 9, 1968

Next Edition:  Replacement Corpsman

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